Rosie O’Donnell: pioneer lesbian TV host spills on Ellen


Rosie O'Donnell Andy Cohen
Rosie O'Donnell and girlfriend Aimee Hauer. Image: Eosie O'Donnell Instagram

Comedian and television personality Rosie O’Donnell whose talk show paved the way for The Ellen DeGeneres Show told late-night talk show host Andy Cohen that DeGeneres afterwards snubbed her.

The Rosie O’Donnell Show ran from 1996 until 2002 and picked up several Daytime Emmy Awards. In early 2002, Rosie appeared on an episode of Will & Grace playing a lesbian mum. A month later, she came out as a lesbian during a cancer benefit.

“I’m a dyke! … I don’t know why people make such a big deal about the gay thing. … People are confused, they’re shocked like this is a big revelation to somebody.”

Two months later, her show finished.

Always outspoken, Rosie, also known as a relentless charity fundraiser and generous philanthropist, became known as the Queen of Nice, something of a precursor to the Ellen DeGeneres ‘Be Kind’ show slogan.

Ellen DeGeneres, in fact, appeared on The Rosie O’Donnell Show long before her own daytime talk show began in 2003.

I don’t know Rosie

But, as Rosie explained to Andy Cohen, Ellen seemed to forget that once her own show began.

“We had a little bit of a weird thing.

“After my show went off the air and hers was coming on the air, Larry King was on with Ellen and he said, ‘Whatever happened to Rosie O’Donnell? Her show went down the tubes. She came out as a lesbian and disappeared!’

“And Ellen said, and I’m quoting, ‘I don’t know Rosie. We’re not friends.’”

Rosie said she ‘never really got over’ the comments.

“I was in bed with Kelli, and I said, ‘Did I just hear that or was that a hallucination?’

“It hurt my feelings, like a baby, and I never really got over it.”

Rosie O’Donnell also revealed she was asked to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show before it ended. She asked if she could bring someone with her so it would be ‘a little less awkward’. When staff on the show refused the request, she declined the invitation to appear.

“I wish her all good things in her life and that she should be well, so there you go.”

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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